San Francisco Neon


San Francisco Neon advocates for preserving historic neon signs with tours, talks, exhibits, consultations, and events including Neon Speaks–an annual festival and symposium on neon restoration. The mission of San Francisco Neon and Neon Speaks is to educate and advocate for the artistic legacy of historic neon signs: an enduring archive of design, craft, community, and city history.

Local neon historians and consultants Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan are the authors/photographers of San Francisco Neon: Survivors and Lost Icons (Giant Orange Press, 2014).

Featured Fun

San Francisco History Days 2020 is partnering with San Francisco Neon and the Tenderloin Museum to present select programming from Neon Speaks, an annual festival and symposium that advocates for preserving historic neon signs.

Friday, September 25, 2020, 5:00PM – (Virtual) SF Neon Tender-Nob

From the gritty to the sublime, zig zag through the historic corridors of this neighborhood situated between the Tenderloin and Nob Hill districts in San Francisco. This historic district is populated with vintage signs that light up the night and create a sense of time travel. This tour is hosted by San Francisco Neon authors and photographers Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan. Tour features historic photos, film clips, and ephemera with architectural and graphic design insights to San Francisco’s unique legacy of surviving neon signs.

This event is free but pre-registration is required.

Saturday, September 26, 2020, 6:45PM – (Virtual) Tenderloin Neon + Matchbooks SF

Follow a historic trail via neon and matchbooks on an online journey with hosts Katie Conry from the Tenderloin Museum with Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan of SF Neon. You’ll see stunning visuals of vintage match books and neon signs from the nightclubs, hotels, and late-night greasy spoons that formed the Tenderloin’s mid-century nightscape. Just like matchbooks, historic neon signs are a fascinating synecdoche of the small businesses they represent, and a window to the past explored through material culture. Tour includes iconic businesses remembered vividly through vintage ephemera, video clips, and historic photographs.

Event is free but pre-registration is required.

Sunday, September 27, 2020, 6:30PM – (Virtual) Brilliant Storefronts

San Francisco’s signs and storefronts represent the intersection of architecture, aesthetics, and advertising. From the radioactive-green cocktail outside Martuni’s piano bar to the crimson glow of a Mission Street drug store, the city has an abundance of hand-crafted neon signs and classic storefronts. Join us for an online tour via photos, footage, and ephemera of San Francisco’s historic and brilliant storefronts. Hosted by Martin Treu, author of Streets, Signs and Storefronts, along with Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan of SF Neon.

This event is free but pre-registration is required.